Day 31: The Next Goodbye

Day 31.

Can you even believe it? When I went into this month, I was experiencing equal parts enthusiasm and dread. I was excited because the three previous years of kindnessing had been very healing and productive, so I felt healthy and energized in a way that I hadn't in years past. I also knew that we just moved at the end of September, we had a wedding to prepare for and #AdamsActs and the blogging on top of it felt like a lot to take on. So, part of me was very afraid!

Now that the month is over, I can honestly say that God sustained me in a way that I needed, and he did a lot of it through you guys. One of you sent me an anonymous card for every single day of October. One of you brought me a meal. One of you sent me flowers. One of you gave me a sweater that made me look trapped inside a sharpened pencil. 

I could not have done this month without those tender mercies along the way. Every like, every share, every post, every act of kindness, every gesture of support provided a sort of balm to my weary, aching heart. I felt encouraged by your participation and connected to a community of people longing to love other people through acts of kindness.

For Day 31, my girls and a neighbor friend went to deliver all the blankets from the blanket drive to Marvin and Denise Robinson, who are dear family friends of ours, and also missionaries to the City of Rochester. 

We had so many blankets that I literally had to stop them from pouring out of our van. With my leg. 
Marlie and London were my little helpers... 

We brought a friend for back up.

Although Annalee didn't seem to need it...

Marvin and Denise Robinson with their kids and grandkids (some of our nearest and dearest friends... Including my beautiful goddaughter Macey on the right.)

Marvin has a bread ministry, where he delivers bread to families in need, and they will regularly deliver holiday meals and school supplies, as well. He and Denise have been in ministry for over 20 years and have devoted their lives to loving and serving the people in the city of Rochester.

If you are looking for final #AdamsActs  for day 31, donating to their ministry efforts wouldn't be a bad way to end the month. You can learn more and/or donate here:

After delivering the blankets, we hosted friends and family for dinner and trick-or-treating. If our Seven Dwarves costumes weren't your favorite act of kindness than I am concerned about your ability to enjoy things. Because. Come on.

I mean, Grumpy alone... 

With the hairy chin strap? 

And if Weirdy was one of the dwarves, this would make a lot more sense... 

I am counting all this costume-making as #AdamsActs because it is a family tradition that my brother would have approved of. I enter into evidence

Exhibit A)

Adam as a mummy/shaving cream monster? 

And Exhibit B)

Kristin as the least terrifying cat ever, and Adam as the only clown in history that was adorable and didn't make me throw up in my mouth. 

His precious little body, that was somehow as wide as it was tall in this picture, all dressed up, just touches my heart in a way that I couldn't begin to describe. I don't remember Adam like this because I wasn't born yet. Adam the little boy...

This is the Adam I remember...

The big boy I looked up to. 

The goof. (Seriously, all the time with those socks...)

Then the athlete.

The champ.

The handsome stud/never had a girlfriend/just grew out of his skinny legs.

The young man.

Now that I am a mom though, I can look at those pictures of Adam as a little boy and a whole world of pain will fall upon my chest. Not because I remember Adam as a baby, or as a toddler, or as a little boy... but because I know that there are ones who do. There are aunts and uncles and teachers and, mostly, a mom and a dad who knew him for 17 whole entire years. And they lost him. They lost the baby, the toddler, the little boy, the stud, the champ, and the young man about to make his mark on the world. 

They lost all of it with one stranger's choice. And I look at those pictures of him as a little boy and I see the teeth and knees and legs of my nephews. I see my mother's mouth set in my dad's jaw. I see my daughter and my niece in that squatty little clown, and when I look at these haunting eyes, I see my own.

I don't know how to describe the pain and relief I feel when October passes. I am relieved that I have stopped simply surviving my way through it, and I am happy that I am able to thrive. I am relieved that the burden of sharing daily is lifted. Still, I find that I am also very sad. When October ends, it almost feels like we say goodbye to him again. Over and over, we have to let him go. November 1st is always my saddest day, because I remember so clearly that was the first day without him. 

I remember when they came home and told us "we lost him," and in that moment watching my mom motion to my brother-in-law, Joe, to put away Adam's wresting singlet and warm-ups. They were strewn on the living room floor because I had just dressed up as Adam for Halloween the night before. Even in the midst of her greatest loss, her instinct was to keep mothering, to protect. She didn't want us to see Adam's things in that moment. But I saw it. I saw his things and knew he'd never wear them again. And it was the first goodbye. 

So, as we wrap up the fourth year of these acts of kindness in honor of the first boy I ever loved... it feels like yet another goodbye. Thank you for allowing my family's story to impact so many people through your willingness to pass it along. Thank you for being kind on earth, when he cannot. Thank you for sitting with me while I say the next goodbye. 

Day 30: Baggage, Lunch & Dinner

After the emotional roller coaster I have been on the past few days, I evened out a bit for Day 30, which was nice because I had activities and kindnesses from morning till night. 

I finished most of the children's beards. (Simply being able to read that sentence is a kindness to you, is it not?) I delivered the beards and costumes to school along with a special lunch for Harper's teacher. We have had a lot of struggles with this little guy, and having our family in her class her first year of teaching, is quite an undertaking. She is doing a phenomenal job with him and I have complete trust and confidence in her ability to handle his unique situation while he is at school.

Scarcely is my concern for Harper not front and center in my mind, so having it in the back of my mind for a few hours while he is in her care is an unbelievable relief to me. This gift is something that only a parent of a child with a severe emotional disability could fully appreciate. So, she gets her favorite lunch. 

 And one priceless selfie with Dopey.

As you can see, I arrived at school dressed in full costume, which I consider an act of kindness to all the other mothers since my looking like a total idiot exponentially increases the cool factor for anyone in my immediate vicinity. I brought apples for London's class and volunteered to help with their costume parade. 

 For my final #AdamsActs for Day 30, we delivered more lifesaver/thank you cards for the NICU nurses and also made dinner for Pat and Megan who spend such long days at the NICU with their girls that they should not have to worry about mundane details, like making dinner.

I forgot to take a picture of my dinner, but this is basically what it looked like. 

I want to thank any and all of you who have inquired about and prayed for these two little warrior girls in the NICU. They are doing awesome in so many ways, and have recently joined the four pound club! Being born at 27 weeks around two pounds a piece means this is a huge victory for them. It also shows how far they still have to go, so I beg you all to continue praying for their growth, strength and development. And for Pat and Megan's endurance and peace during this time. Also, maybe pray that you can be friends with them someday, because they are that great, and you're missing out. 

We ended Day 30 with one of our favorite families who came over for dinner, which was a kindness to myself really. One of the things I shared last night with my friend Courtney, is the shift that has taken place for me in October as a result of #AdamsActs. I used to go into October with a private grief, and blogging through it and doing acts of kindness helped me to externalize my grief in a more productive, life-giving way. What I did not expect, was how this would free others to share their private grief with me. 

Over the past four years, countless people have shared with me their deep, personal losses and griefs. I have heard from so many of you about the stages of grief from losing a parent, a sibling, or worse... a child. Many have shared their private grief over the struggle to conceive a child. I have opened message after message about miscarriage and baby loss, and divorce and death and long battles with Alzheimer's or cancer or ALS. Some have shared their childhood memories of a life in foster care, some of you have shared their experience parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder/Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and a few of you have shred your stories of having these disorders.

In an effort to no longer carry my own grief privately and alone, I found myself with the holy burden of helping some of you carry some of yours. I do not take this privilege lightly. And I thank you for the honor of doing life with you in this one, small way. 

My sister's bff, Karen, recently shared an article about how dismissive it is to say to someone hurting that "everything happens for a reason." 

In the article it said

"Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."

For the past four years, all of you have helped me carry my pain. And in an unexpected turn of events, I have had the intimate and devastating honor of carrying yours. 

Day 29: Random Acts of I'll Pay Ya Back

I celebrated Day 29 with obscenely puffy eyes and a vulnerability hangover from publicly spilling all my saddest guys in last night's post. I seriously cried like an absolutely hysterical baby while I wrote, and then intermittently afterwards, and then every time I was alone today, which was twice for about 3 seconds each. 

My #AdamsActs was a day spent with my friend Lexi. When people ask me "how do you manage five kids and your business and a move and..." The answer is, well, Lexi. She helps me with the kids, she helps me stain my floors, she moves furniture with me, she will go buy puffy paint in an emergency... Seriously, the girl is willing to do anything to help my family. She is such a servant and a faithful friend. And we never hang out without the kids, so we haven't finished a conversation since nineteen ninety never.
She was the wind beneath my wings the week of the wedding, and girlfriend deserved a day-o-girly-fun as a handsome reward.

Except everything went awry. I won't get into all the details of my hellacious morning, but suffice it to say that according to London, "the smell of a rhino cage" was involved. After handling the rhino, I resisted the urge to hide in the basement in a fetal position, and I got the children to school (even Harper, although an hour and a half late). 

I picked up Lexi and treated her to coffee and a massage and an amazing lunch. Oh wait, that is not how it happened at all. 

1) I forgot my wallet.
2) I realized that right before we ordered coffee.
3) She had to buy the coffee.
4) And lunch.

At least I did find two crumpled dollars in my coat pocket, which I used to "treat" us each to three minutes in one of those very aggressive massage chairs at the mall. There is video evidence of how horrifying this experience was for me, but let's just say that I felt quite violated. 

After all these fails, we ended our day of girly fun with absolute chaos. Kids needed to get picked up from school, diapers were removed (and contents explored/spread) during nap, Halloween costumes were being made, plus dinner and open house at school and my rage-filled destruction of Jay's pack-n-play (or poop-n-play as it has been renamed.) 

Have you ever seen this garbage man lose his head over the garbage that won't come out? This is precisely what I looked like when I destroyed and disposed of my pack-n-play after nap. 

Poor Lexi.

There were some successes for Day 29 though... the blanket drive is yielding ridiculous heaps of blankets for the homeless! 

And as a kindness to my family, I have been hard at work making our family's Halloween costumes. Technically it is only a kindness to the girls because Jay doesn't care and Harper hates our family themed costumes. He just wants to be Spiderman every year like all the other 8 year old boys on planet Earth. But that's not how we roll. We roll as a family of Santas, or as brides and grooms, or something else absurd. And this year, we will be The Seven Dorves. (London gets pronunciation cred on that one.) Harper is not thrilled. Which is fine, that just makes assigning Grumpy quite easy. 

But the Dorf costumes are almost complete and I only had the one mental breakdown today, so I am counting that as my final kindness for Day 29.

Day 28: There was a brother.

There are moments, usually when I least expect them, that I am blindsided by the fact that my brother is gone. It can be something so small, like tonight, one of my kids pointed out that I am the tallest one in my family. 

"You are the youngest kid in your family," she noticed, "how are you taller than your parents and your sisters." 

Yes. I am. 

I am the tallest one in my family. 


It's those small things that hit me with big realities. 

One remark like that and my mind is instantly filled with fresh, heartbreaking awareness...

How tall was Adam?
I can't remember how tall my brother was.
He was only 17 and still growing, how tall would he have become?
How can I not remember how tall he was!? 
I am losing the details of him.
I miss him.
I want one conversation with him as I am now.
I want to go back and be able to say goodbye.
I didn't want him to go.
I don't want to be the tallest one in my family.
She mentioned my parents, and my sisters. She forgets there was a boy.
I wish she knew to add a brother. 
I wish there was a brother.

Watching the news clip yesterday brought back such a flood of memories and emotions. Yesterday, the news remembered that there was a boy, a brother, and they told his story. And today, I just feel sad. I am so proud of this movement of kindness, and if Adam can't be here on earth living out these kindnesses himself, then I am certainly glad that all of us are doing so on his behalf. It's the next best thing to having him be right here. But that's just it, it's not even close to having him right here. And sometimes, little things trigger that very big, sad reality.

I know that it is normal to lose the details of a person, but we are always gaining new details. Sure, you forget how your childhood friend cut her hair in middle school, but that's because you can't stop picturing her as she is now. But, time and grief and loss are tricky that way. Time robs you of the details of your memories and loss robs you of new ones. And what's left is a sort of hazy dream of a person, something you can't quite entirely capture in your mind.

So Day 28 was about noticing and acknowledging small details. The internet guy came to our house today (in a cold, torrential downpour) and he spent a long time going in and out of the house, downstairs to the basement and back upstairs and then back outside, all to put a black, blinking thingy on the shelf. 

For #AdamsActs, I forced him to accept a hot cup of coffee, and after he left, I called the company to give a very specific list of everything he did super well. The rep I spoke with said that she was so happy that someone called with positive feedback and would personally call his boss to let him know my specific compliments. 

It wasn't anything major, but I think if a small thing can trigger big grief, than perhaps a small thing also has the potential to trigger big good. And I am for good. I need good. 

So I said nice things about Mr. Jeff the internet guy, because he matters too. He is someone's son, someone's daddy, someone's childhood friend, someone's boy, someone's brother. And the details of him matter. Noticing the details of a person is a kindness, and a privilege I long to have back. Until I get to see with my own eyes the glorious details of my brother, made completely new in heaven, I will have to settle for the details of Mr. Jeff and all the other earthly brothers and sisters that God puts in my path to notice, and care for, and love. 

Day 27: Haters Gon Hate Them Filthy Dates

Day 27 was a big day for #AdamsActs.

Our computer is having a panic attack, and by that I mean it is still "loading" since I tried to blog last night, so I'm pretty sure it's "retiring" to a nice computer farm out in the country, where there is plenty of room to run and play with other useless computers... but that means that from now on I have to blog from my phone which is the worst, and also means that I can't embed this link, but you should still click on it.

You. Guys. 

First of all, these people are calling #AdamsActs an initiative! Ha! I am so proud of all of you who have read and participated and shared the posts and hash tagged your little hearts out. I wish all of you could have been interviewed instead of me (partly because I had 20 minutes to prep for that interview - and by "prep" I mean... wash my hair in the kitchen sink to create the illusion that I showered today.) 

Okay, so in addition to the little debut on Fox News, our blanket drive was a wild success today. 

The bin runneth over. 

I will keep the sign and the bin (and those tiny pumpkins) out for the whole week so Rochester peeps can send me a private message for the address if needed. 

For Day 27, I had a cool run in at the grocery store. A young mom and her two little kids were eating spoiled dates, it was terrible. She was waiting near the check out because the cashier had to  ring me up before she went back in to return the rancid dates. I grand finale-ed  my grocery order with a candy bar for the cashier. I didn't plan to have an audience for that moment, but spoiled-date-lady had to wait there with her kids, who were getting crankier and louder by the minute.

I know that feeling. It's the worst. There is nothing more panic-inducing than watching your child slowly reach their boiling point and you KNOW it's about to get real, and there is nothing you can do except sweat, and pray and maybe whisper yell a little. You may beg for them to please just ignore their hunger and exhaustion and their need to urinate, and please just mindlessly remain silent. It's a terrible feeling. And it is always compounded by the judgey stares of onlookers.

This. Right here. Is why I will never buy dates. Also because they're disgusting.

So, after she got her dates returned and she started to leave, I just stopped her quickly to let her know that she is doing a great job, and that her kids are both so young and they are both at a really, really challenging, dependant age and that it will get easier.

No one ever became a better mom because someone shame-stared them down at the grocery store. 

She seemed really, truly uplifted and thanked me. As I made my way through the parking lot, I paid the quarter deposit for a few people's grocery carts (yes, I shop where you have to rent your cart). 

The spoiled-date-lady saw me doing this and finally said "Okay, really!? Are you always this nice because I have caught you three times now!" So, I went and explained #AdamsActs and how I am in the home stretch of this month of kindness, but that it does really change how you live all year long. She promised to find me on social media, and I really hope she does! And I hope she's reading this right now, and I hope she knows that I meant every word about her as a mom. 

And I hope she forgives me for calling her spoiled-date-lady.